Civic duties are typically associated with the public and define how citizens should interact with one another to ensure safety and equality for all. As public service agents, lawyers have some specific civic duties, such as upholding the law, prosecuting offenders and seeking justice. For example, public defenders and defense attorneys have the civic duty to ensure clients receive fair trials, regardless of public perceptions of innocence or guilt. Prosecuting attorneys have the responsibility to gather evidence legally, without compromising the integrity of trials or investigations. All lawyers have the civic duty to act without favoritism, bias or partiality.
Provide and Encourage Access to Legal Resources
A lawyer has the civic duty to help educate the community on legal practices and available legal resources. Even though you work with individual clients, you also have the broader civic duty of ensuring that all citizens, regardless of socioeconomic or social status, have access to the legal system. You should support law reforms and bar regulations that serve the greater good, according to the American Bar Association.The legal system is designed to help lawyers administer justice, regardless of any personal financial gain or recognition they might receive.
Uphold the Constitution
Lawyers serve their communities by supporting rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution. Even though you must consider motivation, extenuating circumstances and specific case details, the Constitution spells out freedoms and liberties, making it easier to determine when offenders cross the line and victims deserve justice. One of your civic duties is to ensure that you uphold federal and state laws and interpret constitutional laws fairly, consistently and appropriately. This requires continued professional study, constant awareness of changes in the laws and an ongoing understanding of lower court and Supreme Court rulings.
Ensure Privacy and Confidentiality
A lawyer must respect the confidentiality she has with her clients. Attorney-client privileges safeguard the secrets clients share with their attorneys and encourage freedom of communication between the two parties, according to Cornell University Law School. This serves the greater good of the community by assuring citizens that they will receive fair representation should they be accused of wrongdoing or criminal activity. The North Carolina State Bar says that preserving client confidences is an important civic duty because people are more likely to seek legal advice when they know lawyers use discretion and keep communications private.
As tempting as it might be to blur the truth or let false misrepresentations slide, a lawyer has the responsibility to be truthful when dealing with others on a client's behalf. You must avoid misleading statements, omissions and nonfactual information that hinders the due process of law, according to the State of Ohio Supreme Court. For example, a lawyer can't assist a client with fraudulent activity, affirm false testimony or approve illegal activity. Even though you want your client to win her case, it's your civic duty to deal truthfully with eye witnesses, investigators, character witnesses, law enforcement agents, courtroom officials, expert witnesses and other attorneys on both sides of the case.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.